Wales' Premier Independent Travel Magazine

My Travel Life: Pam Thornton, Cowbridge Travel

Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines Colombia and, nearer home, Corsica in France are some of Pam Thornton's preferred destinations.
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Pam Thornton opened Cowbridge Travel in May 2021. Was she mad to have opened during Covid? Her friends seemed to think so. However Pam is keen that things will improve in 2023.


Pam and her Cowbridge Travel team

How long have you been in the travel industry business?
I’ve extensively travelled throughout my career as a cocoa trader so know Africa, Asia and Latin America very well but only began my travel agency in 2021.

Name the five best places you’ve visited and why you would recommend them in order of preference.
Oh that’s a tough one. Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines Colombia and nearer home Corsica in France.

Are you a good packer? Do you have a system?
I always take too much-often because I am carrying food. I do it all very last minute.

Do you take anything on the plane to make the journey more comfortable and relaxing?
Yes, I’m rather ritualistic… my Bose headphones, a large cashmere scarf in case the temperature drops, a bar of Lindt milk chocolate to snack on, nasal saline drops to stop my head drying out, Indonesian menthol balm for forehead and a small marble angel for good luck.

Any advice for a nervous flier?
Hold my hand and listen to music.

What do you do as soon as you get to your destination?
Typically I unpack unless it’s a one-night deal.

What do you enjoy most about travelling?
I can’t say I enjoy the act of flying anymore – it’s nothing like as pleasant and easy as it was twenty years ago. Did you know that we get there two hours before departure purely because that’s the deal airports have established with DFS? Some overseas airports have had their departure area actually built and paid for by DFS like Heraklion in Crete. So, the best part of travel for me is being unreachable while in transit and new people, sights and tastes on arrival.

Do you prefer package tours, let your colleagues book your holiday/travel plans or, as you are such a seasoned traveller, do you prefer the do-it-yourself option?
I had largely done it myself over the years but with the constant fluctuations in the price of flights, it had become more luck than judgment especially as bots monitor your searches and adjust prices up when it is clear you are interested in a flight. Long before covid I had started to use an agency to avoid phone wait times and poor customer service. Certainly, with all the forms to fill in and rule changes, I would definitely use one now especially as there is no price difference.

What advice can you give to travellers to get the best from their holiday?
Be fearless and live like locals – especially with food, rather than trying to duplicate habits from back home. For example, ordering wine in Mexico is expensive and often of inferior quality so try a tamarind margarita instead!

What advice can you give to travellers if things go wrong?
People, the world over, like to feel useful and want to help. Let them. One normally makes friends along the way. And, of course, call or What’s App your travel agent if you need flights or rooms changed.

Why should travellers not book a holiday via the internet?
If you know exactly what flight you want to take and where to stay, I think its fine – although flights aren’t normally financially protected unless there is a hotel or car rental included. But a good agent can make you aware of new carriers, more convenient airports, new hotels and most importantly come up with suggestions based upon their large pool of genuine customer feedback. Selling travel isn’t normally a one-shot deal. We are after your long-term business and must meet you in the street afterwards so we want your experience to be the best it can be.

Where are you hoping to travel next?
I plan to go to Malaysia and Indonesia in March for work and hiking in Spain in April for pleasure.

Has Covid curtailed your travelling?
Yes. I’ve been moving around a bit since April 21 but before that lay low.

Apartment, villa, air BnB, or hotel. What’s your go-to?
Well, Airbnb can be a villa, house or apartment. It depends where one is going. Up country in Cote d’Ivoire there aren’t many options, so I use all of the above.

Has Covid affected bookings at Cowbridge Travel?
Yes it will take time for us to return to the pace of bookings enjoyed by the team in the previous agency that operated on the premises. But we are optimistic travel will bounce back in 2023 as there is definitely pent-up demand. I think environmental concerns are also more evident now as we’ve all had a chance to think hard about the way we are living. I think fewer but longer holidays are likely and more active rather than passive vacations.

Do you think the Government has handled the issues with the industry well? If not, what do you think could have been handled differently?
I think the traffic light system was a shambles. It was often arbitrary and illogical. I think being part of an integrated vaccine passport system – such as they have in the US and EU – would have made life easier for travellers particularly those going to and from the EU.

What do you think is needed to help the industry now and going forward?
As much notice as possible about changes. Vax passports. Minimising quarantine consistent with safety.

Are you positive about the future of the industry?
Haha, if I wasn’t positive, I wouldn’t have opened an agency at the height of Covid. My friends thought I’d gone mad. If anything, haven’t we learned that life is too short and more unpredictable than we thought? In the near future, we must prioritise spending time with family and friends and doing things we have dreamed of doing for years. I think we will holiday more often at home but use overseas trips as a reason to really “travel” and challenge ourselves.

Cowbridge Travel
8 High Street
Cowbridge
Vale of Glamorgan
CF71 7AG

info@cowbridgetravel.co.uk

www.cowbridgetravel.co.uk

VALE LIFE
To find out more about Cowbridge and the Vale of Glamorgan, please visit www.valelife.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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